Monday, May 13, 2013

Financial Infertility

*Update Below

Do you know what the true force that determines whether you will ultimately be successful in this family building business really is? It's not clear fallopian tubes or sperm counts. It's money. A big old truckload of greenbacks just waiting to be dumped into either the clinic's or agency's pockets can almost certainly open up your possibilities and, in many cases, guarantee that at some point, you will become a parent. It might not be in the way you had originally intended, but the reality of a child ending up in your arms is tenfold when you are blessed with the income (or, more rarely, insurance coverage). Because if you're especially infertile and don't have money, well then, you may very well be stopped on a dime...literally.

Pretty crappy way to determine who gets to be a parent, no? But then, we all know this life in IF land was never built on what's fair.

When we thought we were headed for a 'plain' own egg IVF several months ago, even that was a financial stretch for us. But when we were slapped in the face with my brand-spanking, shiny new DOR diagnosis and decided to go the egg donation route (rather than throw away 20K using my crusty ovaries), that's when we found the stopping point of our dime. Our forward momentum is now at a full stand still until we can magically come up with several thousand dollars (in the midst of the constants of life, like car repairs, house repairs, etc.). We will get there, though, but it won't be any time soon. I know that much.  At least the ticking time bomb that once sat squarely in my ovaries is no longer an issue.

And yet, we're still one of the lucky ones. There are so very many people who will never see a F.ollistim pen or wake up from an egg retrieval because that will always be out of their reach. It's funny to think that anyone would consider going through that a privilege, but I do. Access to medically necessary treatment like IVF could very well be the one thing that separates you from your child.  And despite what it seems, not everyone gets that opportunity.

My best friend from middle and high school (who is now more of an acquaintance, though I still love her dearly) is infertile. I've always known she was infertile, even when we were kids. Her periods were so wonky and she ended up with a 16 pound cyst that had to be removed when she was 18. You don't need a specialization in reproduction to know that there's going to be some baby making issues later on.  I don't know all of the details of her story currently, but the last time we spoke in depth over three years ago, she shared that she had a wicked case of PCOS (which I guessed) and since then, I know she's been going through treatment and has had a few miscarriages. She recently shared on Facebook that the doctors tell her it's time to move on to IVF, but she can't. She simply does not have the money and that's heartbreaking to see.

This is only one example of a family that might never grow unless there's some magical good Samaritan that shows up with wads of cash or a change in insurance. I know there are more like her, especially in these economic times.  For any number of people who have stretched themselves thin by taking out loans to finance treatment, there are probably far more who can't even get a loan because they foreclosed on their house or because they kept going over the limit on their credit cards when they lost their job. 

I don't know if my friend has considered foster adoption, but maybe that's not an option for whatever reason. Because we don't have a lot of contact, this is all speculation, but I use her as an example of what I'm guessing to be a huge subsection of the IF community that we don't often hear from. The blogs/forums I read are more frequently by people either actively in treatment and/or parenting following successful treatment/placement. It is rare to see someone sit on a blog or forum for years on end with little to no intervention. Sure, there's quite a lot of failed cycles out there, but are there many people writing who rarely ever see a doctor because they simply can't afford it? Not that I've seen, but I know they're out there and they're probably plentiful.

I would imagine that watching your fellow bloggers/forum buddies move forward with treatment (and often with success) when you are standing still against your will breeds a whole new level of pain to the infertility equation.  No one wants to conceive their children by way of catheter and/or petri dish, but what if you never even got the opportunity to do that? I've been touched by this. I want nothing more than to get started with a clinic, pick a donor and move on with our journey, but I can't. I sit here and daydream about the moment when I show up to an RE's office and finally say, "I'm ready." I actually look forward to treatment, regardless the outcome (although, obviously I'd like an actual take-home baby from it). But the truth is, we just don't have 32K lying in our back pockets. Who does? Well, some, but I doubt that makes up the majority of us.

**UPDATE: Aaryn brought up a great point and I want to clarify, just in case it didn't come across. I in no way believe that money=baby. What I wanted to convey was that in many cases no money=absolutely no baby. I know most understood (including Aaryn) that this was not the intention behind my message, but just in case there was any idea that it was (which, I could see how someone could come to that conclusion), I wanted to make it clear.

OK. That's all. Carry on...


AnotherDreamer said...

Very well said. I have a friend who has issues, but they don't have the money to seek treatment and that's hard. I have some other friends who are limited in their options too. We ourselves are limited in our options because of no coverage. That's why we're probably not doing more cycles this year.

I've always resented this side of infertility the most... that it comes down to who can afford what they need. It's not fair, and infertility is so unfair to begin with... but it's the added sting, that part that kills me more than anything is knowing that if we did x, y, z, we could be done. But not being able to afford it? We get nowhere.

(*hugs*) about your issues... may you find/save the money and be able to move forward soon.

Aaryn Rubin said...

Obviously money doesn't = a baby, but I have a friend where money isn't an issue and she is embarking on IVF with potential for donor eggs and I told her that as long as she doesn't have financial constraints (which I don't think she does) they'll have a baby at the end of this-somehow someway...

I can't even begin to formulate a coherent thought right now about my real thoughts on this and how it has effected me personally.

Anonymous said...

Yes, yet another part of infertility that is so unfair. I don't understand the CA law about infertility coverage - how can it be ok to exclude the method that is most likely to help from the coverage requirement?
Like you I feel lucky to be able to do an IVF cycle. If it doesn't work we're looking at a long wait until we can afford to try again, but for now I'll just hope it will.
Hope you'll be able to do a DE cycle sooner rather than later.